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The Lost Dragon Chapter 7.1 (LMS VI)

by soundofmind


Chapter 7: Treason? I Barely Know Him!

That was odd. Clandestine wasn't sure of how concerned she should be, but if she had to guess, people didn't come out all this way and wait for the homeowner to return unless it was important. She squinted, watching as Matt walked away for a moment before she traced Kenneth and Gregor's trail as they rode up to the cabin.

"Why does he always do that?" Percy muttered as he shut the gate.

Clandestine looked over to him with her brows drawn together.

"Do what?" she asked.

Percy leaned on the fence, looking out at the cows.

"He always says something to make me sound stupid and just..." Percy threw his hands up in Matt's direction. "Leaves."

Clandestine looked over to Matt, who was getting smaller as he quickly made his way over to the stables. Maybe he was anxious to find out who was at the cabin, too? But something didn't feel right. She couldn't quite put her finger on it.

"I'm sorry," Clandestine said absently. "That's not, uh... very nice."

"He does it all the time," Percy sighed. "Acts like I'm an idiot. I can't wait for Gregor to fire him."

Clandestine wasn't sure what to say in response. This felt like some kind of inter-personal drama she wasn't really a part of and didn't need to be, and she didn't really want to take sides. It also wasn't her main concern at the moment. Honestly, she was more worried about the man at the cabin. If there was trouble, she wanted to be there to help, especially since Gregor has been so kind as to hire her.

"So... what are we supposed to do with the cows?" Clandestine asked.

"I already did the headcount," Percy said.

"Ah," Clandestine nodded. "And uh--"

"You don't have to do anything," Percy said. "You did your job already."

Right. She killed the monster.

Clandestine nodded again, feeling a bit awkward and oddly naked without Billy there. She could've kept Billy around, now that she thought of it. She supposed she hadn't been thinking at all. She'd been too caught up in the mystery of who was there.

Turning away, Clandestine cleared her throat.

"Well, uh... I'll see you, then," she said.

Looking out at the cabin, Gregor and Kenneth were already there.

Clandestine broke into a run and, with long strides, she skirted around the fence and let the momentum and gravity carry her downhill. She was aware that it probably looked a little dramatic, but she didn't want to miss out on whatever conversation was being had and make people have to repeat themselves.

That, and there was something that just didn't feel right.

She couldn't shake it away. Even though there were no monstrous creatures around, she couldn't help but feel like the hairs on the back of her neck were sticking up. Some forgotten instinct inside of her didn't just worry that danger was coming. She knew it was.

Her feet pounded against the grass until she reached the bottom of the hill and hit dirt. The cabin was only a few yards away, and she started to slow down, still letting momentum carry her forward until she was walking the last few feet, now well within earshot to pick up the conversation.

"I've been tracking him for a few weeks," the man on the porch said.

Clandestine found herself staring at him. He was tall. Young. He had brown skin and dark hair like her, but cropped short and slicked back. He couldn't have been older than his early 20s, and yet he had a shock of white hair by his temple. He looked strong and lean, and he seemed oddly relaxed despite having the posture of someone alert. Maybe it was his expression or the way he talked, but he seemed confident. Inherently trustworthy, despite the circumstances.

"He was among your recent hires, yes?" the man continued, looking at Gregor. He didn't even give Clandestine a glance.

"...Yes," Gregor said, and Clandestine could tell he sounded conflicted. Stiffly, he looked up at the man and stuck his hands in his pockets.

"Are you sure it's him? Matt doesn't seem that dangerous. He's a bit quiet, but he'd never hurt anyone," Gregor defended, though Clandestine didn't understand what for.

But she soon got her answer.

The man reached into his coat. At that moment Clandestine noticed two things.

One: this man was armed. Not just with a gun at his side, but with a whole belt of knives strapped across his chest. Another gun sat on his other hip, and he had a sling around his back. She could see the tip of the rifle sticking out from behind his shoulder, and who knew how many other weapons this man had hidden on his person.

Second: the poster.

The man pulled out a piece of paper folded in half. He opened it with a flick, and the poster faced all three of them with the face of a man drawn on it that bore an eerie resemblance to someone they all knew.

Matt.

Except the name written on the poster said: "Tiberius Hemming. Wanted Alive for committing High Treason against the Moonlight Kingdom."

And when her eyes landed on how many zeros sat next to the "5" and the "gold pieces" as a reward, she wasn't sure if the world stopped moving or if it was just her that froze in place.

Silence sat between the four of them for a few long, painful seconds, and then Kenneth broke the silence.

"I don't see much of a resemblance," Kenneth said, but Clandestine knew it was a lie.

Sure, the drawing wasn't perfect. It looked like it had been drawn when Matt was younger; his face was clean-shaven, and he had fewer scars on his face, but the eyes and nose were eerily the same. His thick eyebrows were pretty easy to pick out as a defining feature.

That, and they nailed Matt's resting angry expression.

"He's been wanted for several years. He's learned how to blend in and be unassuming," the man said.

There was a beat of tense silence, and Clandestine watched as Kenneth and Gregor shared a look while the man continued.

"Where is he now?"

It was at that moment that the reality of the situation began to sink in.

This man - whoever he was - was a bounty hunter. Matt was a wanted man, and this man was here to retrieve the bounty. He wasn't going to wait for an answer if Kenneth and Gregor were uncooperative. She knew that bounty hunters didn't have problems taking matters into their own hands. That's why they went into that profession in the first place.

Swallowing, Clandestine finally broke free from her frozen panic.

She ran. This time, it was to the barn. That was the last place she'd seen him. That was the last place anyone would've seen him go. Everyone knew he was there. The man didn't even have to ask.

He knew.

Clandestine sped to get there first.

But just as she closed in on the barn, she saw Elliot burst out of the already open barn doors.

Skidding to a stop, heart pounding, she just missed colliding with Matt and Elliot as they rode out, veering around the other side of the barn, out of view.

But that cover would only last them a few seconds.

Spinning around, she looked back at the cabin, in horror, watching as the bounty hunter leaped atop his horse and cracked the reins. Gregor and Kenneth's confused sputtering overlapped in an incomprehensible panic.

No. No. No.

She didn't know what Matt did to earn the charge of "high treason," but what little she knew of him told her enough: he didn't deserve this.

Her mind moved faster than her body, and she scrambled to whirl back around. She tripped on her own feet, but pushed herself back up and launched herself into the barn with a leap. She saw Billy sitting in a stall, saddle, and reins still on. Matt hadn't wasted time taking off any tack.

That's why he went to the barn. He was already preparing to run.

Clandestine opened the stall and hastily led Billy out of the barn with anxiety bubbling in her gut. She jumped up into the saddle and as she rode Billy out into the open field, she had a brief moment of doubt.

What was she doing?

But then she looked out and saw Matt and Elliot making their way up the next hill, and the man speeding after them, and she didn't need to think anymore.

"Hyah!" she shouted, and Billy started forward, rounding the barn and quickly gaining speed.


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Wed Mar 01, 2023 12:00 am
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Dossereana wrote a review...



Hi @soundofmind I'm here to do another review on your novel. :) let's jump right into it shell we.

Things that I've been noticing

1: Okay I'm going to be honest with you, I'm getting a little confused when you keep changing Matts name to James and then back to Matt, I'm just having a bit of trouble keeping track of what's going on.

2: the first problem also links into what I said in my last review about the main characters never being the same, and that can contribute a lot to me being confused.

3: Just a little note here, this had a swear word in it, you might want to rate it twelve just in case, I know its hard to decide what to rate things as.

4: I also am picking up on the feeling that there are a lot of cliffhangers, due to the chapters being split into two parts, so just watch out that there isn't a constant mount up of cliffhangers happening.

Clandestine looked over to Matt, who was getting smaller as he quickly made his way over to the stables. Maybe he was anxious to find out who was at the cabin, too? But something didn't feel right. She couldn't quite put her finger on it.


Still not really sure if Matt and James are different people or not I'm starting to think that there the same person.

Things That I Liked About This Chapter

1: I like the conversation that Percy had with Clandestine right in the beginning it really shows how annoyed Percy is getting with Matt.

2: I really like where the plot is going, I can really tell you have been planning this chapter out for a bit, and I must say the mystery has got my attention.

3: I also love that the chapters are split into two parts, because it lets me prosses both parts properly.

4: The chapters are always a nice long length but at the same time not overwhelmingly long, sometimes I feel like other novels do that where there chapters are to long and I get overwhelmed because of how much there is to read. But you've balanced this out really well.

She didn't know what Matt did to earn the charge of "high treason," but what little she knew of him told her enough: he didn't deserve this.

Her mind moved faster than her body, and she scrambled to whirl back around. She tripped on her own feet, but pushed herself back up and launched herself into the barn with a leap. She saw Billy sitting in a stall, saddle, and reins still on. Matt hadn't wasted time taking off any tack.


I love this part, where Clandestine is so willing to help Matt even though she hardly knows him and doesn't know what he did. Matt had better know that, that's what real friends do.

All in all this chapter was rather exciting and had a great end. It has me hooked and as normal ready to read the next chapter. :)

I hope you like the review, and find it helpful, sorry if the advice wasn't useful to you though, I'm trying to be a bit more useful with my reviews. But if I was being harsh, I'm really sorry that was not my intention, I'm only saying what I think might be helpful, I hope to read more of your chapters, keep up the great work.

I hope you have a great day/night witch ever side of the world you're on.

@Dossereana Flying Over The Green Room And Spreading Shards Of Encouragement




soundofmind says...


Hey, Doss! I'm glad you're reading and reviewing! I appreciate it and I'm glad you're enjoying the story. :^)

1: Okay I'm going to be honest with you, I'm getting a little confused when you keep changing Matts name to James and then back to Matt, I'm just having a bit of trouble keeping track of what's going on.


This is something I tried to establish as early as the first chapter, but I'm sorry if it got lost in translation: Yes, James and Matt are the same person. He's going by the name Matt, and it's the name everyone knows him by, but when the story is written from his point of view and reveals his internal thoughts, he refers to himself by his real name, James.

I'll quote the little bit from the very first chapter part I'm thinking of:
"Oh, and Matt?" Gregor called out.

James brought Elliot to a stop and looked back. He'd grown accustomed to responding to the false name.

I'm still figuring out the best way to make it clear without getting rid of all the mystery! But I could probably make it more clear in that first chapter. It's not something I want to keep reminding readers of over and over, though, since I figured if I established it early on that was enough.

4: I also am picking up on the feeling that there are a lot of cliffhangers, due to the chapters being split into two parts, so just watch out that there isn't a constant mount up of cliffhangers happening.

And on this, it's really just a result of trying to post shorter parts on YWS that are easier to review. I've thought of not splitting and posting the chapters in parts, but when you post a chapter that's 4,000 words it can be a bit overwhelming for reviewers to read and review in one huge chunk. So the cliffhangers are mostly a result of just... having to split the chapter in the middle. But if you ever do read a chapter all the way through - part one and two (and maybe three) read in a row - let me know if it flows well! I try to write it so it does.



Dossereana says...


Thanks for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it, also thanks for explaining everything. :)
It makes a lot more sense now.



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Wed Feb 01, 2023 3:06 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again sound!

General Impressions

I can kind of relate to the situation Percy describes at the start of the chapter! It’s neat to have some more of an explanation for the dynamic between James and the others, even if the plot ends up moving on from the cow-herders. That moment humanises the supporting characters quite a bit.

The bounty-hunter also makes quite the impression. “Inherently trustworthy” appearance is an interesting way to describe someone who seems to be an antagonist at least for now, so I’m quite curious about this character. I could totally feel the tension and then panic towards the end of this part.

I couldn’t think of a particular way to improve the writing here, so I’ve got some more story speculation and impressions.

Characters

I like the gestural descriptions for Percy as he initially talks to Clandestine. I thought they showed his personality and frustration pretty well, especially when he waved his arms in James’ direction when talking about him. I do wonder if he found out her name by this point xD since last chapter James implied that Percy doesn’t remember Clandestine’s name.
I think if Clandestine were someone else, I would find it odd that she just seems to know the bounty hunter is bad news despite him having a “trustworthy” appearance. But when I thought about it more, it made sense, since she’s also been avoiding the authorities all her life with regards to magic. She’d also have to be good at sensing danger to make it so far in this setting.

I was really rooting for Gregor and Kenneth when they both tried to defend ‘Matt’, especially when Kenneth claimed the poster portrait didn’t look like him. It feels kind of hopeful that they’d stick their necks out and kind of lie for James despite not knowing him for that long.
One question I asked myself as I was reading was what Clandestine’s motivation for going after James could be. From what I’m reading it seems to be that 1.) he seems like a decent guy and 2.) she can’t bear to see him severely punished or maybe even killed for ‘treason’. So it seems like maybe she has a strong sense of justice in general, and maybe also sympathises with him, herself being someone who is also unjustly persecuted.

Plot

Skidding to a stop, heart pounding, she just missed colliding with Matt and Elliot as they rode out, veering around the other side of the barn, out of view.

I like this moment for the tension. James is *so* close to ultimately getting away/ being captured, and Clandestine was *so* close to just missing his departure totally. It was a good way to link this chapter to the last as well, given the POV shift.

It seems James was right about Moonlight Kingdom people having a lot of resources to “get their way”, given that the bounty hunter has so many weapons. It’s kind of interesting because I’d assume magic would be quite powerful compared to knives/guns and yet the people in power probably don’t have it/ at least don’t use it publicly. I’d speculate that maybe they do so in secret, because a repressive government that goes after people for treason would find such power too tantalising *not* to have. And the other option would be that magic has its uses but is about as powerful as technology, or has some big cost/ limitation that would stop people like the Moonlight Kingdom using it for their own gain.

Overall

I’m itching to see what happens next! I hope Clandestine manages to catch up with him. I’m a little worried about Gregor, Kenneth and Percy if they end up left behind. Hopefully no further bounty hunters find and question them.

Hope this helps – let me know if you’d like more feedback!
-Lim




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